Stankevitch – Next two games are huge

Rochdale coach John Stankevitch says their next two games are huge in the race for promotion in Championship 1.

Hornets find themselves two points outside the top four, and face Workington on Sunday before a crucial derby with Oldham on June 24th.

This weekend’s game is possibly the biggest game the club has faced in recent years, with Rochdale currently four points behind the Cumbrians, having played two games more.

Stankevitch said: “It’s fair to say that the season so far hasn’t gone exactly how we planned it to.

“I’ve said it time and again, that individually, we are the strongest that we have been since I joined the club almost three years ago.

“But that’s all well and good, if you can get all those lads on the field at the same time!”

Stankevitch has had numerous problems with injuries, losing half-back pairing Paul Crooke and Ste Roper early in the season, as well as experienced forwards Anthony Stewart, Stephen Bannister and Danny Ekis, while Gary Middlehurst copped a six-match ban.

He has been forced to turn to youth, with the likes of Will Chadwick, Andy Unsworth and Andy Taylor all given a chance, but has been unable to identify any new signings for the club.

He added: “I’ve personally tried to bring players into the club, from clubs in higher divisions, but without success, as the clubs all seem to have their own problems to contend with, or they are reluctant to send their players into Championship 1.

“To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of Dual Registration as it can cause upset with the lads you currently have in your group. It’s a big plus for teams that are the ‘lenders’ but for the receivers, it can mean that lads already at the club feel that they are not good enough and they can lose faith in the coach.

“I’d rather stick with the lads that I’ve brought in and work to help them get better. Its a big part of what I believe are my strengths -development, and we are all working to keep developing and moving forward, but sometimes, at this level, injuries, work commitments and other distractions have a huge impact on results and unfortunately, so far this season, that has been the case with us.

“With nine games remaining, time is fast running out for us to achieve promotion, and our next two games are huge.”

The top four clubs in Championship 1 will be promoted this season as the league above expands to 14 teams, while the third tier welcomes four fresh faces.

Hemel Stags, Northampton Rebels and University of Gloucestershire All Golds have all been confirmed as new additions for 2013.

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